Tuesday, August 31, 2010

local band pasta salad

One of my favorite ways to spend my evenings (besides in the kitchen) is to go to live music shows. So imagine my glee when I discovered that an awesome local band were selling their very own cookbook at the merch table! The band is Gentleman Auction house, and they are fantastic... they have had some national recognition, and they are all pretty. Seriously. How does that happen? All very talented and all very good-looking. Jeez. Anyway, I picked up the cookbook, which is a self-published little book filled with recipes from the band and their family and friends.

I saw GAH (love how the initials work out... GAH!! :) ) again this past weekend and St. Louis first annual Loufest. Loufest was fantastic.... well organized, great music, beautiful weather, good food and beer. It made me so proud of my city! Check out my fellow Food Blog Mobster Kelli's take on the fest... and FBM's official photographer Corey Woodruff's photos from the event. (and pledge to his kickstarter to help him document and even bigger fest in New York this fall...)

In honor of the sun and colorfulness of the fest, the recipe I chose from Gentleman Auction House's cookbook is this tortellini salad with asparagus, ham and strawberries flavored with a lime vinaigrette. I changed very little... I used more asparagus just because I wanted to use the whole bundle, and I subbed fresh lime juice and agave nectar for the limeade the recipe called for. I was a little iffy about the addition of strawberries... with asparagus? But it really worked! This is a fabulous salad for warm weather... and it's so pretty with the red berries, bright green blanched asparagus and pink ham.

Ham and Asparagus Tortellini Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
adapted from Gentleman Auction House's Cook Book

-1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
-1 (16 oz. ) pkg. cheese tortellini
-1 cup cubed ham
-1/4 cup green onions (I forgot these)
-1 pint strawberries, quartered

-3 Tbls. olive oil
-3 Tbls. rice wine vinegar
-juice from 1 lime
-zest from 1 lime
-1 tsp. agave nectar
-salt & pepper

Cook the tortellini in boiling water according to the package, adding the asparagus about 3 minutes before the tortellini are done. Drain and rinse the pasta and asparagus with cold water. Mix all the dressing ingredients together, either with a whisk or by shaking them up in a container with a tight lid. Combine the tortellini, asparagus and ham, and toss with the dressing. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Add strawberries right before serving.

Here is a Gentlemen Auction House video for your listening and viewing pleasure:

And here are some pics I took of them performing at Loufest:

I do believe that is a mixer bowl as part of his drum set (there are 2 drummers!! rawk!)

Man. Food and music is a match made in heaven! There has got to be more band cookbooks out there... ? Woody informed of the upcoming book Mosh Potatoes, which has the Headbanger's Ball little tween in me all swoony. Franz Ferdinand's lead singer has a book about eating while on tour, called Sound Bites, that is fantastic... I did a little write up on it a few years ago. Dear readers, tell me some more music + food books!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

breakfast tacos with tomatillo-bacon pan salsa

I had a hankering to dress up my usual simple (but satisfying) breakfast taco. Usually these consist of corn tortillas (2 per taco), an over-easy egg and Tapatillo hot sauce. However, I had farmer's market goodies this particular morning! Stuff I bought without a particular plan for their use. Tomatillos & bacon. So I combined them to make a sort of hot salsa... which I've named a "pan salsa" although I'm sure there's a proper name for this sort of thing out there somewhere... a chutney? a relish? Whatevs. Pan Salsa. It's yummy.

Tomatillo-Bacon Pan Salsa

-3 slices of thick-sliced bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
-1/2 a white onion, chopped
-10-12 small tomatillos, cut into small bite-size pieces
-1 red chili pepper
-maybe some agave nectar or sugar

Cook bacon in a skillet. Once it is crispy, remove the pieces to a paper towel. Reserve about 1 Tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan. Cook the onions in the bacon fat until they are translucent and beginning to brown. Add the tomatillos and chili pepper and cook until softened. Add the bacon pieces back to the salsa. Taste, and if it's too tart, add about a teaspoon of agave nectar or sugar. Cook another minute or so.

For the tacos, warm some corn tortillas (2 per taco) in the oven or (my preferred method) over the burner using tongs. Cook some eggs over easy (1 per taco). Serve eggs on tortillas with the pan salsa and hot sauce, breaking the ooey gooey luscious yolk before eating. Have plenty of napkins.

I like tacos, it seems. Past tacos posts:
Pork tacos with Green tomato salsa
Chipotle Shrimp tacos with Jicama-Mango salsa
Chorizo, Egg & Raisin tacos

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

curry potatoes in a noodle bean nest

On a trip to the Ferguson Farmer's market, I noticed something weird looking at the Earthdance Farms booth. What looked like really long green beans, the color of beets. They informed me they were called Red Noodle Beans.

I am a sucker for anything with the word "Noodle" in it, so I got a hearty handful of the crazy beans. What to do with them? I also got some of their adorable little fingerling potatoes. I love my potatoes curried, so that's what I went for. Originally I was gonna have the beans and potatoes all together, but then I thought I wanted to taste these freaky beans in a more pure state. Since they look like big noodles, why not use them as I would a big noodle, and put my curry on top of them?

Bonus: when I did this the beans looked like a birds nest and the tiny taters looked like eggs. I wish I could say I had planned this, but alas, it is an accidental occurrence of teh cute.

Curried Potatoes with Bean Nest

-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
-1 medium white onion, chopped
-1/2 Tablespoon oil
-1 1/2 Tablespoons hot curry powder
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 teaspoon coriander
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 lb. tiny little fingerling potatoes
-1 small yellow tomato, chopped, with juices
-salt & pepper

-red noodle beans, ends trimmed, blanched in salted boiling water for about 3-5 minutes.

Cook the garlic and onion in the oil in a skillet until soft and starting to brown. Add the spices and cook until everything is soft and fragrant. add the potatoes and tomato and about 1/2 cup of water. Cook until the potatoes are soft (fork-tender), adding small amounts of water as needed to keep everything from getting too dry. Serve over noodle beans.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

brown butter blondies

My momma-san's birthday was this week. I wanted to bake her some special treats, and since she's a blonde and proud of it, blondies were the obvious choice. I found a recipe for these Brown Butter Toffee Brownies on Martha's site. Martha always wins. Seriously. These are gooooood. Very rich with an irresistible caramel sweetness, with that touch of je ne sais quoi from the brown butter. Martha says to cut them into 3 inch pieces, but I cut mine much smaller, like 1 and half inch, because they are so rich. Delicious.

Brown Butter Toffee Blondies
From marthastewart.com

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)
1 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter and flour parchment paper.

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Attach bowl to mixer; add eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and toffee bits. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Peel off parchment paper; cut blondies into 3-inch squares. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

bloody mary panzanella

Yes! 3rd post in a row using that treasure of summertime, tomatoes! I had a couple juicy heirlooms from the farmers market that had to be eaten STAT. Also in danger of being wasted was a half loaf of bread. Panzanella, naturally, came to mind. If you are not familiar, panzanella is a salad made from stale or day-old bread. Salad made from bread!! What's not to like? They usually include tomatoes, too.

While thinking of what else to include in my panzanella, I remembered that I also have some prepared horseradish in the fridge that needs to be used. Horseradish + tomatoes = Bloody Mary! (yes, this really is how my brain works. cocktail & carb-centric). I am certainly no mixologist. In fact, I am much too lazy to make cocktails most of the time. But incorporate the flavors of a cocktail into dinner? Heck yes.

Bloody Mary Panzanella

-4 strips of bacon
-1/2 loaf of day-old bread, cubed
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-2 cloves garlic
-salt & pepper

-2 medium tomatoes, cubed
-2 celery stalks, chopped
-1 green pepper, chopped
-handful of green olives, roughly chopped

-juice of 1 lemon
-1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
-2Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
-2 teaspoons hot sauce
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-dash of celery salt or seasoned salt
-salt & pepper

1. preheat the oven to 400ºF

2. Cook the bacon until crispy. reserve the grease, chop up the bacon.

3. Whisk together olive oil, grated garlic, salt, pepper and 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease. Toss the bread cubes in this oil mixture, lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake until brown, about 15 minutes, stirring once.

4. Combine the vegetables and bacon in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce, olive oil, and seasonings. Add the dressing to the vegetables. Once the bread cubes have cooled slightly, add them to the bowl with the vegetables and toss everything to combine